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When it comes to a band like Pink Floyd, assembling a Deep Cuts list can be rather easy, if only for the fact that the band really didn’t release too many singles during its time. Of course, once they got the ball rolling and F.M. radio stations took off playing entire chunks of their albums, picking Deep Cuts gets a bit trickier. All in all, a basic paradox. For the most part, though, this list uncovers some groovy nuggets before the band became larger than life with Dark Side of the Moon. There are also a couple selections from that famed album as well, and some other odds and ends during their big heyday and post-Roger Waters era. If you only know the band from their biggies, then this list is for you. All the diehard fans can chew over the selections as well and remind me of anything I may have missed. If your personal favorite isn’t here, there may actually be a good reason for it.
“Lucifer Sam” – The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
One can listen to Syd Barrett’s tunes on Pink Floyd’s debut album and either hear a collection of childlike whimsy in the lyrics, or the ravings of a madman already setting in. This track features a descending main theme similar to that of “Interstellar Overdrive,” but it’s the spooky lyrics of a strange cat that cut close to the bone. “You’re the left side, he’s the right side, oh no / That cat’s something I can’t explain!” sings Barrett. The power of LSD or true schizophrenia? Who knew?
“Flaming” – The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
More acid-inspired fairytale book imagery, including a mention of eider down that would later be recycled in lyrics on the Meddle album. Syd Barrett sounds gleeful here, and the whole thing sounds much more like a successful carnival gone haywire than the attempts George Martin made on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album. There’s a strange peeping tom bent to the lyrics, as sexual come-ons are suggested before Syd blasts off into the stars exclaiming, “Hey ho, here we go ever so high.”
“Pow R Toc H” – The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Filled with bizarre vocal noises, some of which sound like birds and other animals, the rest just completely off the chart, this mainly instrumental track features musical sounds that will later figure in to other Pink Floyd ideas later down the road. It sounds like a cross between “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and the fragmented ideas used in the tracks for More. At any rate, the band never did anything quite like it afterward.
“Chapter 24” – The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Syd Barrett used the I Ching as the inspiration for this song, and the lyrics are very much like the Ching itself. Musically, the band has hit upon a rather mystical sound as well, with a creepiness that is both a bit entrancing and disturbing at the same time. Again, while the Beatles were leading the world around with a supposed brand of psychedelia, Pink Floyd were soaking in it and making musical and lyrical ideas of a trippy nature truly work and at the same time really seem to convey the frame of mind and imagery an acidhead could be a part of.
“Remember a Day” – A Saucerful of Secrets
While Syd Barrett was away losing his mind to drugs, the rest of Pink Floyd soldiered on and in fact basically tried to keep working with the Syd sound on their second album. This Rick Wright number gets all the spooky sounds in just right, but his piano textures make the song his own, despite the air of trippiness. Wright’s songs often had a wistful romantic air of melancholy to them, and this one is no different.
“Corporal Clegg” – A Saucerful of Secrets
The first of many tunes from Pink Floyd dealing with the military. Newcomer David Gilmour sings some bits here, but lyrically it’s all Roger Waters (above, at the 2006 Roskilde Festival) territory. Again, the guitars carry over a bit of weight from the first album, but the wild kazoo breaks really make the song. You cannot go wrong with kazoos, so just remember that. Even though it’s “fun” it’s a very sinister bit of music.
“Jugband Blues” – A Saucerful of Secrets
“It’s awfully considerate of you to think of me here / And I’m most obliged to you for making it clear that I’m not here.” So sings Syd Barrett on his final excursion with Pink Floyd. After this, he’d cut a couple albums with help from his old bandmates that showed either genius or growing madness, and sometimes both. Barrett would then fall off the radar until he showed up one afternoon while the band was working on the Wish You Were Here album. The song and album ends with him asking “And what exactly is a joke?”
“Main Theme” – More
It’s hard to really categorize the work that is the soundtrack to the film More. It puts Pink Floyd in a kind of softie folky atmosphere that doesn’t really suit the band at all. This track is close to their patented sound, though, with simple beats, a catchy yet sparse melody line, and a bit of spacey atmospherics thrown in. It’s not great by a long shot, but then, neither is the album.
“Green is the Colour” – More
This, along with the marginal “Crying Song” finds David Gilmour giving it his gentle best. Again, this stuff is pure fluff, though it is pretty. It’s just a good thing that Pink Floyd didn’t dabble in movie soundtracks too terribly long, or else they would have evaporated in no time. Still, it does show an entirely different aspect of the group that many casual fans are probably not at all familiar with.
“Astronomy Domine” – Ummagumma
The album’s title is maybe – or maybe not – slang for having sex, if you didn’t know. Anyway, the live disc is much more preferable than the studio portion, which finds the band floundering about some more after the trifling More. This live version of the song found on the band’s debut absolutely cooks and shows the band taking off into a new direction entirely while cranking out an “oldie.” You can hear the perfection of the extended pieces, that would figure prominently on future albums, all coming into place on this track.
“Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” – Ummagumma
Roger Waters goes completely bonkers and records an audio collage of himself making bizarre noises. It sounds like something Syd Barrett might have done, adding music and some actual lyrics as well. It basically sums up the studio portion of Ummagumma by throwing up its arms in an “I give up” motion and screaming “Yes, this is crap!” Thankfully, Pink Floyd would get their shit together after this.
“Atom Heart Mother” – Atom Heart Mother
Many fans are still divided as to whether this suite is a piece of crap or something worth hearing. I fall into the latter category. There’s something very majestic about the suite’s main theme and the way it then gives way to all sorts of other bits. Electric blues, the John Aldiss Choir singing bizarro phrases, and some freaky studio noodling in a last kiss-off to psychedelia are all part of the mix. The band has complained that it was recorded in a rush and therefore not very good, but if it is a failed experiment, it’s a very good one, and yes, something that wouldn’t be repeated again in quite the same manner in the future. But that’s part of its charm.
“Summer ‘68” – Atom Heart Mother
Of the four selections on the second side of this album, this track by Rick Wright is the strongest. In fact, it would be easy to say that this is his best song ever, with its majestic horn parts, bouncy piano rhythm, and steady-as-she-goes singing. Lyrically, the song is about touring and sleeping with a groupie. Of course, these elements would be touched on deeply in The Wall, but Wright gives the subject its due without going totally overboard on it.
“Biding My Time” – Relics
Of all the tracks collected on this singles and odds and sods compilation, this track is the sole “previously unreleased” gem, and it’s a doozy. Originally part of a longer suite called “The Man-The Journey” as “Rest,” it’s a bit of a goofy, rocking blues number with Roger Waters grooving away on a trumpet. How can you go wrong with that? You can’t. It’s brilliant.
“San Tropez” – Meddle
It’s interesting how downright sullen and controlling Roger Waters became as Pink Floyd grew more successful in light of whimsical tunes such as this one. It’s a damn cocktail lounge song, for God’s sake. But it’s fun and neatly pads the acoustic dreaminess of “A Pillow of Winds” and “Fearless” after the thundering opening of “One of These Days.” The song-oriented side of this album almost seems like the second side of Atom Heart Mother, if only a bit tighter.
“Seamus” – Meddle
Another strange joke track, this time a Dave Gilmour blues featuring a howling dog in the background. Considering how serious Meddle begins on its first side, hearing the band conclude it in an almost comedic fashion is probably one of the strangest things in the group’s recorded output. Some could argue that Meddle is indeed a bit of a muddle, but then there’s everyone out there who swears by the album’s second side, which contains “Echoes.”
“The Gold It’s in the…” – Obscured by Clouds
Whooo! Dave Gilmour cranks out some greasy ‘70s power rawk! Well, what else to do for yet another soundtrack to an obscure movie? It’s a cheeseball song in every way, with Gilmour’s “searing” lead guitar lines really striving for bombastic acceptance. For these reasons alone the song is fun, and once again quite unlike anything the band would ever touch afterward.
“The Great Gig in the Sky” – The Dark Side of the Moon
Rick Wright gets to close out the first half of Dark Side with this melancholy theme that explodes into a fury wrapped inside of Clare Torry’s wonderful wordless vocals. In fact, Torry was slightly embarrassed by her performance when she recorded it, but the rest of the band loved it and so it remained. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine it sounding any other way than it does here. After the storm subsides, “I never said I was frightened of dying” is whispered and the tune returns to its stately subdued grandeur.
“Any Colour You Like” – The Dark Side of the Moon
Another break in the action with Rick Wright’s synth work at the fore. Gilmour’s great guitar work interjects blasts of blues fury at the right moments, and then Dave and Rick go off on a sparring match with the main theme layered underneath the guitar lines. It all makes for a fantastic culmination before calming down once again for the opening of “Brain Damage.”
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part IX)” – Wish You Were Here
It’s important to note that this is indeed the final part of “Shine On” as originally suggested on the LP version of Wish You Were Here. The most recent CD reissue has the song broken up as two long parts, when in fact we all know the different movements constituted a separate “part.” Part IX is worthy of mention as it fades out with Rick Wright slipping into a few bars of “Strangers in the Night” as the track fades out and the album concludes. It’s the perfect finish for an album influenced by Syd Barrett.
“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” – Animals
Roger Waters specifically skewers Mary Whitehouse, some self-appointed leader of the “British music morality” on this track, along with other leaders. If anything, it’s interesting to listen to this track and its audio qualities and consider the notion that Trent Reznor may have borrowed heavily from them for many of his own ideas. Not just the theme of people as pigs in general, but the whole sound of the thing. But no worries, as the track completely decimates everything Nine Inch Nails has ever recorded.
“Young Lust” – The Wall
It’s difficult to pick Deep Cuts from this behemoth of an album. So many of the better songs are played to death on the radio, and the lesser tracks really don’t stand up by themselves outside of the concept of the album. So here we have Dave Gilmour singing about needing some dirty women and the band rocking out in true arena fashion. Hell, this one gets played a shitload on the radio, too. But I prefer it to hearing “Comfortably Numb” or “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2” for the zillionth time.
The Final Cut
I’ll be honest with you. I cannot stand this album at all. I’ve never been able to fully get into it, enjoy it, or sit around and listen to the whole thing without becoming listless. Roger Waters’ concepts had become overbearing by this point and the overall affair was his deal, anyway. It’s a bore of an album and therefore I have chosen no Deep Cuts from it. Unless you want to count “The Day the Tigers Broke Free” which was recently added to the newest reissue of the album on CD, but then it’s just a movie track from The Wall. Ho hum.
“One Slip” – A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Pink Floyd’s big “comeback” album is a rather scattershot affair. They scored big with “Learning to Fly,” which is a decent track. But here’s another tune about lust and sex and it’s a bit of a powerful performance from Dave. It’s slick and would have sounded just fine on the radio. At any rate, the album was a huge success and the Floyd continued to rake in the moolah and tour the world.
The Division Bell
Hate to say it, but I feel the same way about this album that I do about The Final Cut, only this time around Gilmour and co. have become incredibly boring. It’s a long, slow album that really doesn’t have too much to say. The songs taken from it and peformed in concert fared much better with the visual treatments they were given. Other than that, there’s not much to say, only that if Pink Floyd does ever make a new album, hopefully it will be better than this one.